Saturday, May 24, 2008

Search trends for NetBeans IDE crosses Eclipse IDE at Google Trends.

The popularity of NetBeans has increased many fold since the release of NetBeans6.0.
Today at google trends I discovered the same. I compared the results for "NetBeans IDE" and "Eclipse IDE" at google trends

(You can view the results here , to know more about google trends click here).
I wasn't surprised to see that "NetBeans IDE" was more searched than "Eclipse IDE" over the recent months. The trends truly reflect the hard work put by the NetBeans team, Sun Microsystems and an active and growing NetBeans Community. NetBeans has now become developers favorite choice for development. I am sure that this trend will continue to grow in coming months.

Note: I have purposely included the word IDE for trend results because google trends is not able to distinguish between the natural phenomenon "eclipse" and the Java IDE "Eclipse". Including "IDE" in both the keywords makes it more or less a fair comparison.
Also, this is an unadulterated interpretation of a NetBeans user and a student.

Happy NetBeaning!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

This is one of my favourite videos.. truly inspiring... worth a watch

The whole speech in text is as follows:-
You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

NetBeans6.1 Review

Each time a new NetBeans Release is out, it exceeds your expectations. NetBeans6.1 has only reaffirmed that. The NetBeans Java Editor is the most loved feature. The ease with which the NetBeans editor allows you to program not only increases your productivity but helps you know more about the Java programming language. The hints that appear aside the line auto generates the code for importing classes, defining fields and variables and also auto generates the for and while loops for you and I can go and on.

The NetBeans6.1 editor enhancements too have been significant. The Bean Information for a class now gets generated at a click of the button.

It not only gives the auto generated code but also gives the designer view to edit the beans info.

But one cool feature I would like to talk is about the screen shot of the Top-Component(Windows seen inside NetBeans are called Top-Components) on Drag. Whenever a Top-Component is dragged a screen shot gets attached to it automatically.

This is cool because NetBeans is able to generate a compressed image of the Top-Component,. This can be leveraged to take a screen shot of the editor content while writing a tutorial.

Not to forget the Documentation support that NetBeans provides. The documentation has aided better understanding of existing modules as well as helped in writing new modules for NetBeans.

In accordance with this I present below a short tutorial on how add custom action to the NetBeans Java Editor.

  • Introduction: It happens many a times that you get stuck in your small code and you try debugging using the System.out.println() statements. Though NetBeans provides an excellent debugging support and a profiler, you would be discouraged to use that if the magnitude of your code is not that large. As students, we tend to use System.out.println() as our first choice. This tutorial will help you create a custom action for the Java Editor which will insert the System.out.println() statement for the selected variable automatically.
  • Lets Start
    • Pre-Requirements:- Familiarity with NetBeans IDE
    • Creating a New Module
      1. Create a module called "InsertPrintln" and keep the code name base as "org.modules.sack.insertprinltn". A detailed explaination on how to create a new module can be found on my previous posts.
    • Create the Action
      1. Right click the package node and choose New and select Action from the pop-up menu.
      2. Select Conditionally Enabled Action. Select EditorCookie from the drop down menu. Click Next.
      3. Select the category as Other. Check only Editor Context Menu Item box and select "text/x-java". Select the position after the "generate-code-HERE-" option. Click Next.
      4. Enter "InsertPrintln" as the class name and Insert "System.out.println" as the Display name. Keep other settings as default and click finish. The "InsertPrinln" class gets created.
    • Code Content
      1. All we need to do now is to add the logic for our action in the performAction(Node[] activatedNodes) function of the "InsertPrintln" class.
      2. First of all add the following module dependencies to your module.
        1. Editor Library
        2. Editor Library 2
        3. Editor Indentation
      3. To add the dependencies, right click the Libraries node of the project. Select "add module dependency" and add the above dependencies. Once you have added all verify it. To verify roght click the project node, select properties and then select libraries. You should find the list similar to the list shown below.
      4. Now add the following code to the performAction(Node[] activatedNodes) function in "InsertPrintln" class. Your performAction(Node[] activatedNodes) should look as follows:protected void performAction(Node[] activatedNodes) { EditorCookie editorCookie = activatedNodes[0].getLookup().lookup(EditorCookie.class);
        editor = EditorRegistry.lastFocusedComponent();

        selectedText = editor.getSelectedText();

        document = (StyledDocument)editor.getDocument();

        int currentLine;
        int nextLineOffset;

        try {

        stringToBeInserted = "System.out.println(\""+selectedText+" =\"+" +selectedText + ");\n";
        currentLine = NbDocument.findLineNumber(document, editor.getCaretPosition());
        nextLineOffset = NbDocument.findLineOffset(document, currentLine + 1);
        document.insertString(nextLineOffset, stringToBeInserted, null);
        BaseDocument bd = (BaseDocument) editor.getDocument();

        bd.getFormatter().reformat(bd, 0, bd.getLength()-1);


        } catch (BadLocationException ex) {
      5. Resolve the import references and make the following fields: private JTextComponent editor;
        private StyledDocument document;
        private String selectedText;
        private String stringToBeInserted;
      6. Your module is ready to run.
      7. To run, right click the project node and select "Run".
      8. The target platform opens up. Open any Java file in the Editor.
      9. Select a variable you wish to print using System.out.println. Right click and choose "Insert System.out.println".
      10. The statement automatically gets inserted on the next line.
    • Code Explaination
      1. The code is straight forward. At first, using the Editor Registry we derive the last focused component(which returns the editor component we want to work with).
      2. After obtaining the document from the editor and the selected text, we frame the string to be inserted. NbDocument helps us to find the appropriate line number and also helps us to derive the offset for the next line. Using the document.insertString() function we insert our line of code in the document.
      3. Finally we Reformat the document to maintain the indentation.
    • Use this as a plugin?
      1. You can use this as a plugin. Just right click on the project node and select "Create NBM". A .nbm file get created and the link is displayed in the output window.
      2. To install this plugin, go to Tools-> Plugins
      3. Go to downloaded plugins tab and browse for your .nbm file.
      4. Click install and complete the installation procedure.
      5. Your plugin is now ready to use.
Any suggestions/corrections/clarifications/comments are welcome.
Happy NetBeaning!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Open projects programmatically in NetBeans

Recently I was working on a NetBeans IDE module and had to open a NetBeans project programmatically. I looked up in the Projects API to find out. The exploring of the API was a fruitful one and I would like to share it with you.

There are two API which are related to the NetBeans Projects.
1.) Project API
2.) Project UI API

We will start with the Project API first because it was here where I found my answer. In order to understand well let up simulate the "Open Projects" Action in NetBeans IDE. At the end of this tutorial we should be able to have a Global button in the toolbar to open project(similar to the Open Project(cntrl + shift + O) Action). The process will help us understand how NetBeans Projects are Opened in the Window.

  • We will create a new Module called "OpenProject".
    • To create a module refer to my previous post where I have explained in detail on how to create a new Module.
  • In order to simulate the "Open Project" button, let us now create an Action.
    • Right click the project node and select Action.
    • We will make an "Alwaya Enabled" action. So click next.
    • Keep the category as "File". We will just have a button in the Globar Toolbar. So check Global Toolbar Button and keep the category as Edit(Edit because we don't want to create a misunderstanding by keeping it in File category as there already exists the Open Project button in the File toolbar). Click Next.
    • Give class name as "MyOpenProject", action name as "MyOpenProject" and a url to a 16X16 gif/png icon file. Click Finish.
  • A class called "MyOpenAction" will be automatically generated and the action will be registered in the XML layer.
  • Since we will be using the Project API dependency, we need to add it to the module dependency library. To do so
    • Right Click the project node.
    • Go to properties
    • Go to Libraries
    • Select Add. One after the other add the following dependencies
      • Project API
      • Project UI API
      • File System API
    • The dependencies should look as follows.
  • Now we are set to write the performAction function. It will look like this.
      • public void performAction() {
        try {
        JFileChooser projectChooser = new JFileChooser();

        File projectToBeOpenedFile = projectChooser.getSelectedFile(); FileObject projectToBeOpened = FileUtil.toFileObject(projectToBeOpenedFile);

        Project project = ProjectManager.getDefault().findProject(projectToBeOpened);
        Project[] array = new Project[1];
        array[0] = project;
        OpenProjects.getDefault().open(array, false);

        } catch (IOException ex) {
  • Let us go through the code quickly.
    • JFileChooser projectChooser = new JFileChooser(); projectChooser.setFileSelectionMode(JFileChooser.DIRECTORIES_ONLY); projectChooser.showOpenDialog(null);
    • This part of the code is a nomal JFileChosser where we restrict our selection to directories only.
    • File projectToBeOpenedFile = projectChooser.getSelectedFile(); FileObject projectToBeOpened = FileUtil.toFileObject(projectToBeOpenedFile); The projectChooser now returns the object of the selected project. This object is then converted to the NetBeans FileSystem by using the FileUtil class of the FileSystem API. This conversion returns a FileObject which the NetBeans equivalent of a file representation.
    • Now comes the crucial part of the code. Project project = ProjectManager.getDefault().findProject(projectToBeOpened); Project[] array = new Project[1]; array[0] = project; OpenProjects.getDefault().open(array, false);
    • We use the default instance of the ProjectManager class and use its findProject(org.openide.filesystems.fileobject) to find the project folder. This method returns a org.netbeans.api.project.Project. NetBeans uses this as an identifier for all of its projects. Now that we have the Project handle with us, we need to open it inside the NetBeans window. We can do this using the OpenProjects class(which belongs to the Project UI API). We get its default instance and use its open(Project[] projects,boolean openSubprojects) to open the project folder. But we notice here that the first argument takes an array of Project. So we create a Project array called array of size 1. We assign array[0] = project and pass array as the first parameter. The boolean value here asks if the user want to wants to open subprojects or not. We pass false here. So only the main project will be opened.
  • Now Run the module. You will be able to see your custom icon displaying "MyOpenProject".
  • Click it and a File Chooser Will appear.
  • Select a project to open.
  • The project appears in the Project window.
Remarks: Yet a lot of Project related information can be obtained using these APIs. This tutorial just gives a basic start to explore these APIs further. Any remarks/suggestions/comments are welcome.